BYU needs to win one of three baseball games against the University of Utah this week to win the first Deseret First Duel trophy.
With all due respect to the folks behind this trophy and the effort to create some interest and competition, it’s kind of goofy. BYU defeated Utah in football, pulled out the broom in basketball and it comes down to a couple of baseball games?
The 12 sports these two schools compete in for this trophy are were not equal in terms of participation, talent, significance nor meaning to fans. Credit the designers for weighing football with 10 points. But Utah gymnastics draws far more interest than BYU gymnastics and BYU women’s soccer is one of the top attended programs in the country while the opposite is true for the Utes.
Again, I credit those making the point value distinctions in various sports, applying more weight to some than others. But women’s soccer (6 points) probably should not count more than one men’s basketball game (5 points), even if in the end, the two men’s hoops games is worth a total of 10 and the women meet just once in the regular season in soccer.
That may be the biggest complaint, although I’ve heard others. A bigger concern is that this season was basically a competition between BYU’s entire athletic program and excellence of Ute women. Utah’s men were no shows.
Both schools have men and women’s track teams. In this realm BYU has ruled the Rocky Mountain region for more than four decades. But because this isn’t a head-to-head sport, it is taken off the table in this challenge.
Is that OK?
Both schools field basically the same sports, although BYU supports 19 sports and Utah 17. The Utes have women’s and men’s ski teams. BYU does not have ski teams. Utah doesn’t have a men’s volleyball or men’s cross country or track team, BYU does.
The people who set this up recognized the difference in the number of sports and selected similar competitions to make the competition work. But can this be improved? I don’t want to trash those who sat down and worked out all the points. They likely were the athletic directors and marketing folks who tried to be equitable and impart credit accordingly to establish a good baseline for awarding competition points and hiking interest in the rivalry.
Perhaps going down to the wire with only a few points separating the two programs is a good thing. On the other hand, Utah’s men basically struggled this year and their women?s sports carried the school. Perhaps it is a sexist way of viewing the competition that the fairer gender could keep things afloat to the end when traditionally, men’s competition has carried this rivalry.
Utah’s women earned 26 of Utah’s 28 1/2 points heading into this week’s final events, the three baseball games. If Utah never fielded any men’s sports this season, except baseball, this duel would still come down to these baseball games.
That seems goofy.
But is that a fair way to look at it, or it is through a pig’s eye? Or does the fact that Utah’s women have been superior make this all the more dramatic?
Is there a way to give this Deseret First Duel its dues? Does it have the credibility it deserves? Or is it a joke?
I’ve heard a lot of arguments that it’s kind of goofy. But how would Deseret First fix it if it is lacking in credibility? What would make it work?
And does it matter?
These heated rivals are competing for a trophy that signifies supremacy in head-to-head competition in 12 sports during the 2007-2008 academic year.
BYU leads Utah in the battle for the trophy, 31 to 28 1/2, with 1 1/2 points to be awarded to the winner of each of the final three baseball games. A three-game sweep is needed by the Utes to overtake the Cougars and capture the overall title for Utah. Otherwise, BYU is poised to win it all.
This final baseball series will be played May 15-17 at Franklin Covey Field. Games 1 and 2 will start at 6 p.m. The finale will be on May 17 and begins at 1 p.m.
In promoting this event this past summer, athletic directors from both universities say the Duel is a way to further enhance and promote the spirited competition each year between the schools. This rivalry was rated by The Wall Street Journal in 2005 as the fourth best in college athletics.
But, is this format the right method?